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BMT
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)

The Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) was an urban transit holding company, based in Brooklyn, New York City, United States, and incorporated in 1923. It is now the BMT Division of the New York City Subway. Together with the IND, it is operationally described as B Division. The original BMT routes have the letters from NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg to NYCS-bull-trans-R.svg, as well as the Franklin Avenue Shuttle (NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg). The ex-IND (NYCS-bull-trans-B.svgNYCS-bull-trans-D.svgNYCS-bull-trans-F.svg) use former BMT trackage, as does a short section of the NYCS-bull-trans-A.svg in Queens, while the NYCS-bull-trans-W.svg and NYCS-bull-trans-Z.svg supplement theNYCS-bull-trans-N.svg and NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg

Contents

Corporate background

In 1923, the BMT was the successor in bankruptcy to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. Both companies controlled subsidiaries which operated and supplied services for the great majority of the rapid transit and streetcar lines in Brooklyn, New York with extensions into Queens and Manhattan. The subsidiary that operated the elevated and subway lines was the New York Rapid Transit Corporation.

Predecessor companies

The predecessor BRT opened its first short subway segment, consisting only of an underground terminal at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge at Delancey and Essex Streets in Manhattan on June 16, 1908. This line was extended three stations under Nassau Street to Chambers Street beneath the Manhattan Municipal Building at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on August 4, 1913. The BRT opened its first Brooklyn subway under Fourth Avenue on June 22, 1915, running over the Manhattan Bridge to a junction with the aforementioned Nassau Street Line at Canal Street. The BRT opened the first segment of its Manhattan main line subway, the Broadway Line, as far as 14th Street–Union Square on September 4, 1917. All of these subways but the first short segment were built by the City as part of the Dual Contracts.

Some of the former elevated system of the BRT, dating to 1885, remains in use today,the largest being the NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg line running above Fulton Street from the Alabama Avenue station to a small section turning north after the Crescent Street station. Most of the other surviving structures were either built new or rehabilitated between 1915 and 1922 as part of the Dual Contracts. One piece of structure, the elevated portion of the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, built in 1896 and 1905, was extensively rebuilt in 1999.

The BRT also took over the property of a number of surface railroads, the earliest of which, the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Railroad or West End Line, opened for passenger service on October 9, 1863 between Fifth Avenue at 36th Street at the then border of Brooklyn City and Bath Beach in the Town of Gravesend, New York. A short piece of surface route of this railroad, near Coney Island Creek, is the oldest existing piece of rapid transit right-of-way in New York City, and in the U.S., having opened on June 8, 1864.

Industry position

The BMT was a national leader in the transit industry, and was a proponent of advanced urban railways, participating in development of advanced streetcar designs, including the PCC car, whose design and advanced components influenced railcar design worldwide for decades. The company also sought to extend the art of rapid transit car design with such innovations as articulated (multi-jointed-body) cars, lightweight equipment, advanced control systems, and shared components with streetcar fleets. The BMT was also the original proponent of the all-four concept of integrated urban transit.

Unlike the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), the other private operator of subways in New York City, the BMT remained solvent throughout the Great Depression and showed a profit, albeit small in its last year, until the very end of its transit operations.

Sale to the City of New York

The BMT was pressed by the City administration of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia to sell its operations to the City, which wanted to have all subway and elevated lines municipally owned and operated. The City had two powerful incentives to coerce the sale:

  • the BMT was forced by provisions of the Dual Contracts to charge no more than a five-cent fare, an amount set in 1913, before the inflation of World War I.
  • the City had the right of "recapture" of those lines that had been built or improved with City participation under those Dual Contracts. This meant that, if the City forced the issue, the BMT could have been left with a fragmented system and City competition in many of its market areas.

The BMT sold all of its transit operations to the City, completing the deal on June 1, 1940.

The post World War II years saw the city-built IND subway taking over parts of the former BMT, starting in 1954 with the extension of the D-6th Avenue line from its terminal at Church Avenue via a new connection with the former BMT Culver line at Ditmas Ave. The 3 remaining Culver stations between 9th ave and Ditmas were converted into a connecting shuttle service that ran until 1975 when it was torn down. The next connection between the IND and BMT was between the IND Queens Blvd. Local west of Queens Plaza and the BMT 60th Street Tunnel in December, 1955. This new route was used by the BMT Brighton local, which formally ran to Astoria, for service to Forest Hills along with the IND GG local. The next year saw the new extension of the IND A line in Queens connected to the rebuilt section of the former BMT Fulton Steet El at 80th Street in April, 1956. The portion of the BMT Fulton Street El originally running west of 80th Street to Rockaway Avenue was torn down . The late 50's and early 60's saw the biggest project of that era with the building of the Chrystie Street Connection, which connected the IND 6th Avenue lines to the BMT lines that ran over the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. Both connections opened in November, 1967 and created the largest re-routing of lines in the history of the NYCTA. The BMT West-End and Brighton Lines became part of the IND system as a result. At first, some IND 6th Avenue trains called KK and later just K used the connection to the BMT Jamaica line over the Williamsburg Bridge, but the line has long been discontinued and the connection is used only for non-revenue trains today.

Operations

The BMT operated rapid transit (subway and elevated lines) through the New York Rapid Transit Corporation and surface transit (streetcars and buses) through the Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation.

External links

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